The rejection of the Citizens’ Declaration by jailed former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will not affect the momentum of the campaign calling for institutional reforms, says Asia’s top debater Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.
Syed Saddiq, who is a member of the Citizens’ Declaration secretariat, said that the rejection of the document by the jailed PKR de facto leader would not affect the push to get Prime Minister Naib Abdul Razak to step down.
Anwar has expressed concern about the document in a recent scathing letter, where he cautioned PKR about working with his former mentor, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
While admiring Anwar’s fighting spirit as evidenced by the fiery letter the PKR de facto leader wrote from the confines of his prison cell, Syed Saddiq said the movement could not be beholden to one man as it represents all the people, according Malaysiakini report today.
“It would be hypocritical of us to bow down to Anwar, the very person who advised us to not let anyone overpower us. I personally do not worship anyone.
“This is not Mahathir’s movement, (not DAP veteran) Lim Kit Siang’s, (Selangor Menteri Besar) Azmin Ali’s or even Anwar’s.
“It is the rakyat’s movement. It is the rakyat’s declaration!” Syed Saddiq declared in a Facebook posting yesterday.
He added that the declaration was not and could not be controlled by any one person as its power came from a greater authority, which is the people.
“Our power lies in the rakyat’s hands. If Mahathir leaves us, we will march on. Similarly, if Anwar disagrees, we will still continue,” he said.
Syed Saddiq also called on the people to “have faith” in the movement, despite the colourful cast of characters that make up its public face and may sometimes appear to contradict one another.
“We will check on one another. We have the likes of Azmin, (DAP Petaling Jaya Utara MP) Tony Pua, (former Malaysian Bar) president S Ambiga, (Amanah president) Mohamad Sabu, (ex-Kelantan executive councillor) Husam Musa and others who will act as a counter-balance to any possible abuse by anyone in this movement.
“For an example, when Mahathir made a statement against Anwar last month, we had a discussion and the case was settled among us. This couldn’t have happened if the former prime minister was the only one running the show,” he said.
Syed Saddiq said this showed that the declaration “is not Mahathir’s document” as labelled by Anwar.
He said there was little truth that it was straying from the ‘Reformasi’ agenda, as evidenced by the reformist personalities that supported it.
He also expressed his gratitude that other members like Ambiga and the DAP are still committed to the movement, despite the flap over Anwar’s letter.
The Citizens’ Declaration was launched earlier this year as part of a ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign that saw the opposition linking hands with Umno rebels and civil society activists in calling for institutional reforms and for Najib to step down for his many alleged scandals and misrule.
Najib has denied all the allegations and accused them of trying to topple a democratically elected leader.
It has been pointed out that the movement, with its various members of different political spectrum and ideologies, do not mesh or fit well together, as the push to get rid of Najib does not truly draw a common picture.
Mahathir, for one, is clear that he only wants Najib to go, but still wants Umno to stay. This differs from others who have no qualms about seeing Umno taken down a peg or two if Najib goes down. These are differences that Anwar’s letter perhaps helped to underscore.